BURNS, ROBERT. Autograph manuscript of the song "Auld Lang Syne," comprising five four-line stanzas and four-line chorus, titled at the head of the sheet, the stanzas numbered and the chorus indicated, with four words neatly lined through and corrected by the poet in two lines. N.p., n.d. [after 1788?]. 1 page, folio, 323 x 199 mm. (12¾ x 7.7/8 in)., rectangular piece cut from top right-hand margin (repaired with old paper), a few small stains along old folds, small hole at fold intersection in upper portion resulting in loss of one word ("be") in third line of first stanza.\n\nTHE ONLY MANUSCRIPT OF THE IMMORTAL "AULD LANG SYNE" STILL IN PRIVATE HANDS\n\nAuld Lang Syne\n1\nShould auld acquaintance [be] forgot\nAnd never brought to mind?\nShould auld acquaintance be forgot,\nAnd days o' lang syne?\n\nChorus\nFor auld lang syne, my jo,\nFor auld lang syne\nWe'll tak a cup o' kindness yet\nFor auld lang syne.\n\n2\nAnd surely ye'll be your pint-stoup! [tankard]\nAnd surely I'll be mine!\nAnd we'll tak a cup o' kindness yet\nFor auld lang syne.\n\nFor auld &c\n\n3\nWe twa hae run about the braes,\nAnd pou'd the gowans fine; [daisies]\nBut we've wander'd many a weary fitt, [foot]\nSin auld lang syne.\n\nFor auld &c\n\n4\nWe twa hae paidl'd in the burn, [paddled] [brook]\nFrae morning sun till dine; [noon]\nBut seas between us braid hae roar'd, [broad]\nSin auld lang syne.\n\nFor auld &c\n\n5\nAnd there's a hand, my trusty fiere! [comrade]\nAnd gie's and hand o' thine!\nAnd we'll tak a right gude-willie waught, [draught]\nFor auld lang syne\n\nFor auld &c...\n\nAs the Burns scholar G. Ross Roy has written, a case may be made that "Auld Lang Syne is the best known 'English' song in the world, & perhaps the best known in any language if we except national anthems. The song is certainly known throughout the English-speaking world, including countries which were formerly part of the British empire. It is also known in most European countries, including Russia, as well as in China and Japan" (Auld Lang Syne, Greenock: Black Pennell Press, 1984, p.5). Usually, the song functions as a dissmissory, a song of parting, evoking remembrance tinged with melancholy. The origins of the song, whose refrain and title mean, literally, "old long since," remain obscure. A song using the phrase was published by Allan Ramsay in his Tea-Table Miscellany (1724), and some similarities exist to a ballad found in the Bannatyne Manuscript, compiled about 1568. Burns, an enthusiastic collector of traditional Scots song, claimed to have collected it from the singing of an old man on one of his several trips about Scotland in 1787-1788, but it is more likely that he wrote the song, incorporating the pre-existing phrase "auld lang syne," which he found particularly moving. "Song--verse married to music--was Burns' earliest, his latest, his strongest, and his most enduring poetic interest" (R.M. Fitzhugh, Robert Burns: The Man and the Poet, 1970, p.328). "There is," Burns wrote, "a noble sublimity, a heart-melting tenderness in some of these ancient fragments which show them to be the work of a masterly hand." Elsewhere, he spoke of finding "a certain something in the old Scotch songs, a wild happiness of thought and expression which peculiarly marks them." Having achieved a measure of literary fame through the publication of his own Poems, Chiefly in the Scottish Dialect (Kilmarnock, 1786,; Edinburgh, 1787), Burns undertook to edit, for the Edinburgh publisher James Johnson, a collection of Scottish songs entitled The Scots Musical Museum. It was in the first part of this anthology (1787) that the verses "Auld Lang Syne" first appeared, set to a different tune than that to which it is today inextricably linked.\n\nOf the several hundred Scots songs Burns edited, refurbished or composed, "Auld Lang Syne" was clearly a particular favorite. In 1788, in a letter to Mrs. Dunlop, he asked, "Is not the Scotch phrase "auld land syne" exceedingly expressive? There is an old song and tune which have often thrilled through my soul. You know I am an enthusiast in old Scotch songs. I shall give you the verses..." Even before Johnson's Museum had been completed, Burns had agreed to contribute more songs to another, similar collection, this one the undertaking of a London publisher, George Thomson, whose tastes ran more to European art-song than Highland balladry. In addition to supplying the verses, Burns was consulted, to some extent, on the choice of tunes. It is in vol.5 of Thomson's Select Collection of Original Scottish Airs (London, 1796, no.413), that "Auld Lang Syne" and the tune to which it is sung today were first joined; although the poet died before the publication of that volume, he is known to have corrected the proofs. The verdict of posterity would seem to be in agreement with Burns, who, after carefully writing out "Auld Lang Syne" for Mrs. Dunlop, exclaimed: "Light be the turf on the breast of the heaven-inspired poet who composed this glorious fragment! There is more of the fire of native genius in it, than in half a dozen modern English bacchanalians." J. Kinsley, Poems & Songs of Robert Burns, no.240; Lindsay, Burns Encyclopedia, pp. 14-17; J. Fuld, Book of World Famous Music, pp.115-117.\n\nSix manuscripts of "Auld Lang Syne" are extant, all exhibiting some variation in text (see Kinsley). The present version includes the more familiar line "We'll tak a cup o' kindness yet," rather than "Let's hae a waught o' Malaga." The extant manuscripts are: 1) Alloway, Scotland, Burns Cottage Museum. Autograph manuscript. English Index of Literary Manuscripts Bur 47. 2) Alloway, Burns Cottage Museum. Autograph manuscript (a fragment, comprising only lines 9-24). EILM Bur 48. 3) The present manuscript. EILM Bur 49. 4) New York, Pierpont Morgan Library. Autograph manuscript, part of a letter to George Thomson, September 1793. EILM Bur 50. 5) Bloomington, Indiana. Lilly Library. Autograph manuscript. EILM Bur 51. 6) Washington, D.C., Library of Congress. Autograph manuscript, part of a letter to Mrs. Dunlop, 7 December 1788. EILM Bur 52.